Easing Back to Work
Consider a gradual return to work to make the transition easier for you and the baby. For example, work three or four days a week for the first month back. Arrange flex time so you can work, say, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Or share a job with a co-worker, each of you working part time. One fact that will boost your negotiating power is that it would cost between 75 and 200 percent of your salary to replace you — strong incentive for your employer to accommodate you.
If You Work For Yourself
Self-employed women have neither disability payments nor a boss’s good graces to support them during maternity leave. On the other hand, they do have flexibility, but taking advantage of it means having to plan ahead — ideally even before you get pregnant. Here’s how.
Protect yourself financially. “Every self-employed person needs a cash reserve to live on if she doesn’t have other income coming in,” says Gene Fairbrother, lead small-business consultant for the National Association for the Self-Employed in Washington, D.C. This reserve should equal at least three months of your contribution to your family’s living expenses, he says.
Keep clients in the loop. Tell your clients you’re pregnant at least three months before you plan to stop working. “Don’t surprise them with an e-mail saying you’re going into the hospital next week,” says Fairbrother. Let them know when you’ll be out of contact and when you’ll be available for conversations; also have contingency plans, such as farming your work out to a trusted colleague who can
cover for you.
Be realistic and flexible. How much work you can handle after your baby is born will depend on the type of work you do, your newborn’s demands and your own comfort level. Until you actually have a newborn to care for, you may not realize how little time (or energy) you might have. Don’t be overambitious.